SPRING 2020 courtesy of The Chattanooga Pulse
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CHATTANOOGA'S WEEKLY ALTERNATIVE
Spring 2020 Drink Guide Cover Story ..................................................... 14
Bantam & Biddy ............................................ 19
Mike's Tavern .................................................. 17
Beast + Barrel ................................................. 20
The Tap House ............................................... 18
Sushi & Biscuits ............................................. 21
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DRINK SPRING 2020
You, Too, Can Brew There’s nothing like a beer to make things better
NE COLD, BRIGHT SATURDAY, MEMBERS OF BARLEY MOB BREWERS, A LARGE homebrewing club in Chattanooga, sit around a long table at Hutton & Smith. The ambience is half April-colored sunshine, half cave-cozy. Around the table, beers stand in various states of half-full to half-empty: Hutton & Smith’s Promenade IPA, a couple of Pilsners, a German-style Altbier, and a richly colored Schwarzbier. By Jenn Webster Pulse contributor
Generous with their time, a half dozen folks from Barley Mob have gathered to enjoy a cold one and discuss the joys of home brewing. Chris Arnt, current Barley Mob president, came to brewing as a rugby player for Tulane in the late 1980s. He started drinking craft beers in New Orleans when such drinks were difficult to find, and thought to himself, “How do I get more of these?” The obvious answer was to brew them himself. 14 • THE PULSE • MARCH 12, 2020 • SRPING DRINK GUIDE • CHATTANOOGAPULSE.COM
There weren’t a lot of resources at the time, adds Brian Bender, past vice president and current unofficial IT director of Barley Mob. There was the famous Charles Papazian’s Complete Joy of Home Brewing, but nowhere to buy equipment. Early home brewers converted things they found around their house or garage into brew pots, fermenters, siphons and the like. And while today you can purchase fancy home brewing kits online or in boutique stores, you can still handtool what you need. “Brewing is as expensive or as inexpensive as you want to make it,”
Brian says. He goes on to explain that the American Homebrewers Association was one of the earliest groups to support home brewing. “Barriers started to break down,” he says. “The Homebrewers Association was building teams, hosting panels, funding grants for minorities and women in brewing…it’s starting to open up, and I love seeing that in brewing. There’s more to be brought to the table.” Meanwhile, Chris Arnt and his wife, Tracy, had started a homebrewing club in Atlanta before moving to Chattanooga. With their kids grown
and out of the house, they started looking for the larger brewing community. It was quick to find and embrace them. Barley Mob Brewers, started as a drinking club in 2002, was “working to expand the craft beer scene in Chattanooga,” Chris says. “In those days it was just Big River [serving craft beer]. Now we have a dozen breweries in the area, over a dozen breweries and taprooms.” “We’re trying to educate people,” adds Martha Gregory, who’s sitting beside her husband Mark Gregory. “We want to teach people that anyone can brew.” Nowadays, home brewers, even in a small city the size of Chattanooga, have multiple events a year, from street fairs to judged competitions. Barley Mob does charity work too with a bottomless cup event at Mainx24 where proceeds are donated to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank as well as the Chattanooga Breakfast Rotary Club Brew Skies event. There’s a lot of collaboration between local breweries and home brewers too. Hutton & Smith hosts a home brew competition, with the prize being to have your beer brewed on a large scale by the brewery. While you won’t earn any money, you’ll get your own tap handle to take home plus, of course, the joy of taking friends to a taproom for a drink of your own beer. “The brewery may set a parameter, such as asking for a farmhouse style or a spiced beer,” Chris explains. “The
brewery will taste it and pick the winner and that person will get to brew their beer. What’s super cool is their beer is on tap at that place.” Brewing clubs judge each other’s competitions, allowing for better feedback and continuous improvement. Together, the state homebrewing associations compile points from local wins and announce a brewer of the year. Barley Mob members dominate recent winners’ lists, with Chattanooga’s Mark Gregory often finishing high and Barley Mob Brewers vying with the Music City Brewers for the state’s best brewing club. HOW TO START My favorite description of a bad beer comes from the intro to one of
Caitlin Kiernan’s book: “weasel piss.” And, like a lot of uncrafty people, I’m afraid that if I make beer, it’ll be skunky or just plain icky. But it isn’t hard to start, the Barley Mob folks explain. Just let the brewing community know that you’re starting to brew, and they’ll reach out to help you. You can begin with a stove, a pot and just $100 worth of equipment, finding instructions online. Your next step: find a brewing club, join the email list or follow the web page, and start learning. You can also visit a club meeting where there will often be food on the grill and a swarm of folks eager to help you get started. Chattanooga’s Barley Mob meets every third Tuesday at rotating locations. They trade equipment and advice and, of
course, eat and drink together. And don’t worry if your beer doesn’t taste quite like anyone else’s. Style guidelines, Chris explains, help define particular types of beer, such as a Pilsner or an Altbier; they don’t take the place of individual taste. “There are legitimate ‘off’ flavors, but it’s largely subjective,” Brian says. “Our senses are so different.” That said, everyone wants to improve, and a brewing club is the right place to do that. “We have people at all levels,” Chris says. “We have an email system in place [where people can turn for help]. For instance, today someone might be brewing and reach out, ‘I thought I had the hops I needed but I don’t have them; anyone got some to spare?’ Or, ‘Could someone taste this and give me some feedback?’” With help close at hand, it’s easy to feel confident that things will turn out all right and, if they don’t, there will always be a chance to start over again, a little wiser than you were before. FIND YOUR PEOPLE First, Tracy Arnt tells me, there is no one kind of craft beer aficionado. Brewers are lawyers and stay-athome parents, wealthy professionals and working-class folk, college students and retirees. Some are drawn in because they take an interest in engineering their equipment. Others love the cooking aspect. Some are
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DRINK SPRING 2020 process-minded and keep a note of every aspect of a batch, resulting in stacks of ledgers with enough information to recreate a specific beer exactly. Some like to make hand-drawn bottle labels. Others just brew because they like good drinks. Some like the garden-to-glass aspect; for instance, as Martha says, her family grows their own hops and raspberries for their beer. Men brew and women brew; young people and elders brew; people from every heritage brew. An image of a mug in the hand of a lusty Viking or pint glass on the table in an Irish pub may have some accuracy to it, but it’s woefully incomplete. Brian explains that ancient Egyptians made beer; some enthusiastic brewers have recreated some of their beverages. However, I do detect one characteristic that sets this hands-on community of beer lovers apart: their solid commitment to fellowship, fun and mutual aid. “Barley Mob and brewing clubs in general have a kind of funky culture to them,” Tracy says. “We may not agree to anything else, but we like to make beer.” “If anything unifies us it’s that we are fun-loving,” Brian adds. “You’re in it for the fun of it.” “That spills into the brewing in-
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dustry, too,” Chris says. “When new breweries start, it’s not cutthroat competition. The community asks, ‘How can we help you?’” Martha explains that some local commercial breweries, such as WanderLinger, started out as club members. Similarly, when Hutton & Smith came to town, the owners reached out to Barley Mob for help moving. With gear too, it’s share and share alike. “Someone might email the group, ‘I need a CO2 tank,’” Martha says. “Mark will say, ‘I’ve got one,’ and someone will show up to get it. They always bring it back.” “I can’t think of a story where it
went wrong,” Brian adds. That in itself might be testimony enough: what’s better than a group of people who share what they have and return what they borrow? To find home-brewed beer and meet home brewers near you, start with these events: • Chattabrewga at The Signal on March 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. • Big Brew on National Homebrew Day, the first Saturday in May, location to be determined. Or, you can visit a Barley Mob meeting. They rotate locations, so check in on their website at barleymob.com or their Facebook group at facebook.com/barleymob.
DRINK SPRING 2020 Mike’s Tavern
here’s nothing that hits home quite like some good comfort food. Now combine that with excellent service and staff that care about their guests. If it were possible to plug that into your GPS, you’d end up at Mike’s Tavern off Hwy 153 in Hixson. Coming up on their one-year anniversary on April 15th, Mike’s Tavern, although just starting to get established in the community, has already set the bar high for service and dining excellence. The customers are what they’re all about, and they believe they deserve the best. Known for their fresh craft food, great drinks, and amazing service, the experience is all around superior, with a clean and modernized, yet comfy, interior. Best of all, they have a different drink special almost every day of the week: Monday is Margarita Monday, with $5 house margaritas all day. On Tuesday from 4 p.m. to close, all well drinks are $3. Wednesday from 4 p.m. to close is half-priced wine night—perfect for a girls’ night out! Finally, Thurs-
day from 4 p.m. to close is a dollar off bottled beer. To top that off, Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. is Happy Hour—enjoy a dollar off wine by the glass, house cocktails, and all draft beers. While you’re there, be sure to take advantage of their cocktail of the week, with a different flavor each week that coordinates with the season. Let’s not forget everyone’s favorite meal: brunch! Offered Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., enjoy $2 mimosas and the $5 Bloody Mary Bar where you can “build your own liquid masterpiece,” as mentioned on their menu. Their brunch menu changes seasonally, and they’ll be switching from the winter menu to the spring menu soon, so get there before it’s gone! With one year down and many more to go, Mike’s Tavern is just getting started. Keep an eye out for announcements to see how you can help them celebrate one year of good food and satisfied customers. THE PULSE • SPRING DRINK GUIDE • MARCH 12, 2020 • CHATTANOOGAPULSE.COM • 17
DRINK SPRING 2020 The Tap House
alking into The Tap House feels a bit like walking into an old friend’s house. After ordering a drink, you can sink into one of the large, soft couches to chat and curl up, hands wrapped around your glass. In the corner, there’s a stack of board games you can play with friends (or soon-to-be friends). They host trivia nights, vinyl nights, and the ever-popular SINGO nights—anything that brings the Chattanooga community together for a night of family-friendly fun. The open space and large, communal tables encourage patrons to mingle and share stories with other visitors, which is exactly what owner Chris Calhoun had in mind when he designed it. The Tap House is a true pub, so instead of an elaborate, restaurant-style menu, they offer a lighter snack-style menu filled with delicious pub food, including the popular, locally made trout spread. If you do want something a little 18 • THE PULSE • MARCH 12, 2020 • SRPING DRINK GUIDE • CHATTANOOGAPULSE.COM
more substantial to munch on, the menu offers a selection of sandwiches, all of which are paired with a suggested style of beer. And by the way, beer is the Tap House’s true pièce de résistance. “Our focus in on the beer,” Calhoun says, and he means it. The Tap House has over 30 different varieties to sample and they rotate them regularly so there’s always something new to try. A customer favorite is the Triple Jam cider, which is described on the Tap House website as, “the perfect balance of ripe sweetness with bold fruit aromatics.” And if you just can’t decide on a drink, try Chattanooga’s only local beer flight, which includes beer from six different local breweries. Not a fan of the amber brew? The Tap House also has an assortment of wine and kombucha for you to choose from. With a friendly, welcoming staff and an array of regulars, the Tap House is truly the community’s pub.
DRINK SPRING 2020 Bantam & Biddy
very year, St. Patrick’s Day brings a lot of green, a lot of leprechauns, a lot of drinks, and a lot of celebrating. While we can’t promise the leprechauns, the good news is there’s plenty of green and plenty of drinks to go around, which is certainly cause for celebration. This year, Bantam & Biddy is making St. Patty’s Day a special one for you and your friends and family. The downtown restaurant that you all know and love is going all out for the holiday. On Monday and Tuesday, you can snag one-of-a-kind cocktails made specifically with the popular Irish holiday in mind: Jameson Apple Tea (whiskey, honey, apple juice, sweet tea), Gin Blossom (OJ, honey, sweet vermouth), Top O’ the Mornin’ (whiskey, Irish cream, coffee liqueur, peppermint, espresso), and The Massey (whiskey, gin, sweet vermouth, chartreuse, sour). If you're trying to be healthier, they’ll also be serving the Green Monster Mule, which is their signature Green
Monster health juice blend transformed into a cocktail. Matcha Latte and Irish Coffee? Yeah, they’ll have that too. As if that wasn’t enough, they’ll also be serving good ‘ole Green Beer on draft for those wanting to keep it simple, but still festive. While you’re there, be sure to grab a bite to eat. Select from four Irishinspired dishes: Corned Beef & Cabbage, a House Reuben, Cottage Pie, and Potatoes O’Brien. If you can’t make it into the restaurant for the holiday, good news! While some of these specials are only available for two days, the drinks—excluding the Green Beer—are always available. To top off all the fun Bantam & Biddy is be offering new Glutenberg Blonde Ale beer, which is 100 percent gluten free. Based out of Ontario, Canada, this new brand will soon be available in American Pale, Goose, India Pale Ale, and Stout. Don’t miss out on the festivities! THE PULSE • SPRING DRINK GUIDE • MARCH 12, 2020 • CHATTANOOGAPULSE.COM • 19
DRINK SPRING 2020 Beast + Barrel
hattanooga’s finest gastropub is the locally owned and operated Beast + Barrel, located across the river in North Chattanooga, conveniently right on the free electric shuttle route. So whether you're traveling by car, on foot, on via the shuttle, you'll want to stop in and sample their incredible variety of cocktails, beer, wine, and fantastic food. All of their draught beers are brewed right here in Tennessee, with a great variety to choose from. The bar also boasts an impressive selection of wine and whiskey, with six types of wine on tap. If you’re not a fan of beer or wine, don’t worry—you can try one of their lovely cocktails; they have over 25 on the menu, and the bartenders often work their magic to create their own specialty drinks. And when it comes to food, Beast + Barrel is unmatched in their originality and delectability. Their menu is chef-driven, and owner Matt Lewis describes it as a “modern twist on traditional American food.” The charcuterie 20 • THE PULSE • MARCH 12, 2020 • SRPING DRINK GUIDE • CHATTANOOGAPULSE.COM
board with artisanal cheese and meats smoked in-house is a guest favorite, as well as their famous bison meatloaf. Beast + Barrel also has chef-prepared seafood, expertly cooked steaks, and burgers made with local beef. They’re open for dinner daily, but on Saturdays and Sundays they also serve brunch starting at 10 a.m. where you can get new takes on classic favorites, like the Overnight Cinnamon French Toast served with hot buttered rum syrup or a Louisiana-inspired version of eggs benedict made with crab cakes and creole hollandaise. The ambience of Beast + Barrel can be described as casual class, perfect for a first date or an outing with friends. The restaurant’s design is clean, yet indulgent; the open-air dining combined with the dark wood of the booths, tables, and bar will make you feel both cozy and refined. As we move into the warmer spring season, ask for a table on the patio where you can enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Chattanooga’s Northshore.
DRINK SPRING 2020
No Confusion On Infusion How to put the “your own” in “bring your own booze”
Mike McJunkin Pulse columnist
My kitchen shelves are dotted with glass decanters and bottles labeled with tempting names such as lemongrass and Thai basil vodka, ginger infused whiskey, and coconut sugar syrup. ”
Mike McJunkin is a native Chattanoogan who has traveled abroad extensively, trained chefs, and owned and operated restaurants. Join him on Facebook at facebook.com/SushiAndBiscuits
Enjoying a cocktail is a sensuous experience. Not “Nigella Lawson eating ice cream” sensuous, I mean that we enjoy cocktails with our senses—the feel of the glass, the presentation of the drink, the sound of the shaker and most importantly—the taste. There’s no clear indication of when people first started flavoring spirits simply for taste, but it’s not hard to imagine that it didn’t take long for someone to throw some fruit or herbs into a bowl of daddy’s “medicine” to help it go down. Before long, every culture had its own tradition of distilled spirits, each with its own unique flavors and characteristics. The first flavored spirits weren’t mass produced but were infusions made in homes, bars and taverns using ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, bison grass, black currant, cherry, apple and lemon. Fast forward to today’s well-tended, modern bar and you’ll see many of these same flavors back at work, along with some surprising, if not challenging new flavors. In the ‘70s, my experience with flavored spirits was a lot like dating a stripper, plenty of fun at first but things can get ugly really quick. I immediately learned that sloe gin and cherry vodka may have been friendly and approachable to my teenage palate but the poorquality produced consequences ranging from skull-crushing headaches to heartwrenching walks of shame. In the ‘80s, Captain Morgan spiced rum made a huge splash in the market but vodka pushed back to reclaim its title as the OG infusion medium. Flavored vodkas were produced as early as the fourteenth century, initially to mask the harshness of these primitive vodkas then later as a way to indicate the distiller’s skill. These days, you can’t swing a copy of the Miller’s tale around a liquor store without hitting a flavored vodka.
The ‘90s brought in a host of flavored spirits that led to the exotic and sometimes ridiculous flavors we see lining the shelves of liquor stores today. The same impulse that led bartenders in the ‘80s to put on their best Ted Lange smile and whip together outlandish and innuendo laden concoctions like the Slippery Nipple or Sex On The Beach, is the same impulse that has given us terrifying combinations such as Swedish Fish vodka and blueberry pancake liqueur today. I’ve been making my own infused spirits for years. My kitchen shelves are dotted with glass decanters and bottles labeled with tempting names such as lemongrass and Thai basil vodka, ginger infused whiskey, and coconut sugar syrup. The oldest and most common method for creating an infusion is to pick a liquor you love, insert an interesting ingredient to infuse, and let it sit (or steep) for a period of time. Not so long ago, bartenders figured out they could utilize pressure and heat to help move this original infusion process along. Devices such as vacuum sealers and hot infusion siphons have given mixologists more flexibility to create quick infusions that otherwise, would not be practical in a bar environment. Whereas
steeping could take as long as five to six days to achieve flavor, putting those ingredients under pressure with a vacuum sealer can create a flavorful infusion in as little as three to four hours. For the amateur infuser, this lab equipment might be a bit much, but a simple immersions circulator (a sous vide machine) can do the trick. Set the temperature at 140°F, place the liquor and your flavoring components into a jar then submerge in the water bath for one hour. Cool, strain and enjoy. In spite of the chemistry lab components and exotic flavor combinations, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that the cocktail tastes good. There is no substitute for quality ingredients and artful preparation, even when making the simplest of drinks. If you’re the DIY type, you can easily make basic infusions at home. But I’ll warn you, once you start making your own, it becomes hard to stop. Before you know it, you’ll be up late at night trying to order fresh Buddha’s hand from India because you just have to make gingercitron vodka for your sister’s wedding because she loves citrus drinks. Have fun, drink responsibly, eat consciously, and invite me over if you need help taste testing your latest infusion. Cheers!
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